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The NBA Finals are rapidly approaching but much of the rest of the league is already focused on the offseason and building fantasy blockbuster trades. The Warriors are reportedly shopping James Wiseman and the No. 7 pick, Ben Simmons’ agent is already meeting with the 76ers about his future and the Trail Blazers are in desperate need of an upgrade. I put those three together with a few other teams to try and find a deal that works for everyone.
Philadelphia 76ers trade
Giving up: Ben Simmons (POR)
Getting: CJ McCollum
This trade makes a lot of sense on paper as a one-for-one swap and you’ll likely hear it mentioned a lot as we head into the offseason. Simmons needs a change of scenery and the 76ers need shooting and shot-creation. The Trail Blazers need to upgrade their defense and add some offensive wrinkles. It may be a case of swapping one problem for another but it certainly doesn’t make either team worse. Of course, if this was going to happen there might not be any practical reason to involve the other three teams here, but what fun would that be?
Portland Trail Blazers trade
Giving up: CJ McCollum (PHI), Robert Covington (GSW), Anfernee Simons (CHI), Derrick Jones Jr. (CHI)
Getting: Ben Simmons, Lauri Markkanen, Eric Paschall, Kevon Looney
The Trail Blazers are giving up a lot of functional depth here but they’re also checking a lot of boxes with their return. They get the best defensive player in the deal in Simmons, someone who can fit in a variety of lineups because of his versatility at both ends, and plug a lot of different defensive holes. Markkanen quietly had a bounce-back season and would give the Blazers a dynamic shooter and perimeter scorer in the frontcourt, creating a very different kind of pairing with Lillard. Although, this deal would require working out a sign-and-trade with Markkanen. Looney and Paschall may not be that exciting but they could both soak up minutes with the second unit and Looney, at least, has a track record of being a viable defensive big man in high-leverage playoff series.
Golden State Warriors trade
Giving up: James Wiseman (OKC), Kevon Looney (POR), Eric Paschall (POR), Jordan Poole (OKC), Mychal Mulder (OKC), Damion Lee (OKC), No. 14 pick (OKC)
Getting: Thad Young, Robert Covington, No. 18 pick from OKC
The Warriors are giving up a huge amount of depth here, but more so from the standpoint of quantity than quality. Admitting Wiseman was a mistake and cutting ties so early would be hard but they get a decent return with two high-end frontcourt starters who are both high-end defenders. There’s a lot of overlap between Young, Covington and Draymond Green but they get multiple defenders to throw at LeBron, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and Young’s passing and off-ball cutting still provide a lot of offensive upside. It still puts a lot of eggs in the “Klay Thompson is still a flamethrower” basket but there is a silver lining here — they don’t have to give up a first-round pick, just slide back four slots. That preserves the rough outlines of a package the Warriors could still use to chase another star with more offensive firepower — the No. 7 and No. 18 picks, along with the contract of Andrew Wiggins. If you think of this is as the first of a two-part trade scenario for the Warriors, it’s a lot more appealing.
Oklahoma City Thunder trade
Giving up: Kemba Walker (CHI), No. 18 pick (GSW)
Getting: James Wiseman, Jordan Poole, Mychal Mulder, Damion Lee, No. 14 pick from GSW
This is a no-brainer for the Thunder. They’d probably like to turn Kemba Walker into another first-round pick but moving up four slots and getting the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, even if he’s a raw, project, is a great return for a player you have no designs on keeping.
Chicago Bulls trade
Giving up: Thad Young (GSW), Lauri Markkanen (POR)
Getting: Kemba Walker, Derrick Jones Jr., Anfernee Simons
This trade definitely pushes the Chicago Bulls in a win-now direction and relies heavily on an optimistic projection of Kemba Walker’s ability to stay healthy. Young and Markkanen are both frontcourt players and losing defense and versatility (from the former) and shooting (from the latter) definitely changes the Bulls. But it also allows room for Patrick Williams to step into a bigger offensive role in his second season. Jones Jr. is a decent wing defender who provides depth. Simons is still figuring out an NBA role but he’s a 21-year-old guard with significant creation upside who shot 42.6 percent from beyond the arc last season. And of course, if Walker is healthy, he’s a game-changing offensive addition, sharing the creation load with Zach LaVine, helping space the floor when he’s off the ball and forming another devastating pick-and-roll combination with Nikola Vucevic.
If you subscribe to The Whiteboard then you probably already read this. But Gerald Bourguet’s installment from yesterday — thoroughly and insightfully unpacking the current situation with the Trail Blazers, Chauncey Billups and Damian Lillard — deserves another look.
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